Monica Harding, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Liberal Democrats in Esher & Walton writes: South Western Railway has become a joke in our constituency. Failings in our transport network mean we can’t get to work on time, our children can’t get to school, and yet fares have increased again by 3.2% in the New Year. We’re being asked to pay more for less.
It is not good enough. It is unacceptable that we are not able to get to London on time – the world capital of finance in one of the largest economies in the world. This is having a negative impact on earnings which are lost, enforced time off work, childcare extras, appointments missed and so on.
While the Government fails to get a grip on poor performance, Liberal Democrat MPs are stepping up and holding the rail companies to account. They believe that passengers must come first, not the investors in South Western Railway. They are speaking up for their constituents and offering solutions and they are pressing the Government to take action.
Our neighbouring Lib Dem MP, Vince Cable (Twickenham) brought an emergency debate to parliament in December on the subject of South Western Railway and Ed Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) has set up an All Party Parliamentary Group to hold the train companies to account. In December Ed published a report ‘ Passengers Must Come First’ which spells out what needs to happen.
LibDem MPs have a reputation as good constituency MPs, working hard for their constituents and standing up for their interests. As the Liberal Democrat PPC in Esher and Walton I will work with Ed and Vince in pushing the solutions for trains in our constituency.
Here’s what needs to happen:
- The Government must either remove SWR’s franchise or impose a new performance related contract, without negotiation.
- SWR must not be rewarded for its manifest failure. A new contract or operator must be incentivized to put the passenger first, before shareholders. Profits should only be made once stretching performance targets are met.
- Performance targets on SWR must include the existing Public Performance Measures improving to at least 90% on all routes by the end of 2018/20.
- SWR and Network Rail must urgently develop new capability and capacity to manage disruptions better.
- The Government must support immediate additional funding for essential investment.
- Network Rail must reform its structure and culture so that managers are held accountable for performance.
- Network Rail must be given more time to access safely the infrastructure to allow for basic maintenance and repairs.
- The Department for Transport’s role in holding the rail companies to account should be independently assessed.
Want to know more? Follow me on twitter @monicabeharding, Facebook or at monicaharding.org and get updates as we demand better for Esher and Walton.